It helps me so much to hear from others who run--I like to know why they run, how they started, if they loved it right away--anything that will help keep me going. Sherry is one of the Twitter friends who helped get me out of my running rut this week. I loved reading the story of her running journey. You can follow the conversations that a small group of us have about running by using the hashtag #runteacherrun.
My Running Journey
It has been two years since I began my running journey. Two full years since I laced up my shoes and began following the Couch to 5K plan to become a runner. It officially began at the end of the school year in May of 2010. Looking back, there were many reasons why I was inspired to give running a try.
First and foremost, I was unhappy with my weight and knew I needed to be healthier which involved dropping several pounds accumulated over many years. I had been following Cathy Zielske’s blog regularly and was intrigued by the fact that she was running and liking it! She was a couch potato scrapbooker like me, yet she was making an effort to improve her overall health. The whole Couch to 5K plan sounded doable for me because it was very organized and would allow me to check each day off of a list. (Yes!) My sister, an avid runner and triathlete, advised me that running was the best “bang for the buck”. If I put in the effort, the pounds would drop quickly. I liked the sound of that.
Running made sense to me as an exercise activity. It required only a good pair of shoes. I didn’t need to go to the gym to do it. I could just walk out my front door, go down the road, and run. All of these were pluses in my book. I was not an athlete in high school, did little to no exercising at all, but knew it was time for a change. I also liked the idea that it was a solitary activity.
So, I did it. The old saying about “the hardest step for a runner to take is the one out the front door” is true. I did not exactly enjoy running when I began. It was hard work! I sweated a lot. (Summer in Indiana = humidity galore!) But, I printed out the schedule and tried to follow it as closely as possible. Then, ever so slowly, I began to “get it.” I began to feel a sense of accomplishment that I was doing something just for me that was actually good for me.
Two months later, I graduated from the Couch to 5K plan and moved on to the Bridge to 10K plan. I ran a 5K in our town in August and then a 4 mile race a few weeks later. I had to walk part of it but I still finished! A friend at school wanted to run together so we looked for a 10K to work up to for September/October. None could be found so we decided on a 15K run in Chicago...in November. We invited two other ladies to join us and had a great time. We ran the entire race, shivering in the 29 degree start weather, and shedding layers by the end. Finishing that race made me understand that goal setting and achieving was entirely possible through hard work and determination. My goals had been to lose weight (30 pounds = gone!) and be able to run steadily for a chosen distance.
After the Hot Chocolate race in Chicago, I signed up for “the big one”: the Indy Mini in May of 2011. I devoted myself to making time to train for it. The idea of running a half marathon was daunting but I was excited to accept the challenge. In 2011 I ended up running not just the Indy Mini, but also 2 other half marathons! Needless to say, the running bug bit me...hard.
Becoming a runner has taught me a lot about myself. I’m not as much of a wimp as I once thought. I’m capable of more than I ever imagined. I may not be fast, but I can endure. Not every race or run is glorious, but every run is better than sitting on the couch. Every run is a conscious choice to do something good for myself, both physically and mentally. As a wife, mom, and school librarian finding balance is always difficult. There’s always something or someone that needs my immediate attention. I am glad that I’ve finally made the choice to take care of myself too. Making this choice helps me be better at everything else I do in my life.
Two years later, the hardest step is still the first one out the front door, but I never regret taking that step and always feel better for it.